DCI cuts affect Iowa casinos - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

DCI cuts affect Iowa casinos

WATERLOO (KWWL) - After this week's announcement of budget cuts and layoffs in just about every state agency, some are beginning to speak out about the impact of those cuts.  The Department of Public Safety announced part of its cuts will include gaming enforcement officers stationed inside every Iowa casino.  Gaming enforcement agents with the Division of Criminal Investigation are the primary law enforcement agency at the casinos.  Their mission is to conduct background checks into every employee hired at that casino and maintain the integrity of the games played there.  There's concern that could slip if layoffs are made.

It's no secret.  In casinos, cameras are everywhere watching what goes on.  It's the set of eyes watching those cameras that are critical to keeping it fair and safe.  In addition to casino security, most times there's a law enforcement agent from DCI with no ties to the casino watching it all.

"We have specialized training on table games. Many of our agents can deal the games better than those in the industry. we know how to look for cheats, scammers, fraudulent activity in regards to the cage," said Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Winchell.

Gaming enforcement agents also conduct background checks for workers.  Winchell says Iowa is more thorough than most other states.

"If you make it through the background process in the state of Iowa, we should be giving people a card and they could take that in other jurisdictions in the country because it's saying something," said Winchell.

Winchell is in charge of DCI gaming enforcement agents in Dubuque and Marquette.  He says there are currently 14 on staff.  Two could lose their jobs under the budget cuts.

"Iowa has done a very good job of regulating the business, monitoring the business. If we take a step backwards and pull some of the law enforcement out of the facilities, I think it could jeopardize the integrity of the industry in the long run," said Winchell.

In addition to DCI agents on site, there are gaming commission representatives on site as well.  However, they can't enforce laws only gaming commission rules.  The Department of Public Safety says 20 gaming enforcement officers would lose their jobs due to budget cuts with 13 officers being paid through other funding sources.  It would mean a savings of $1.4 million to the general fund.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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